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Unputdownable: adj. (of a book) so engrossing that one cannot stop reading it.
How many books have you read that have captivated your attention so entirely that they have literally become the definition of unputdownable? How many times have you told yourself ‘just one more chapter’ only to realise, hours later as you turn the final page, that the sun is coming up and you’ve foregone yet another night of sleep in favour of a good book?
Whether tragic or comic, light-hearted or desperately saddening, there is something truly enchanting about books enthralling enough to become one sitting reads. And there is true power in something that is absorbed in such a small time-frame and yet can remain in your memory for a lifetime.
Whether you’re looking for a riveting readathon read, or a piece of penned magic to transport you far away on a rainy afternoon, we’ve got a list of our top ten classic one sitting reads.
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
By giving the subordinate a voice, Orwell has cleverly allowed this story to become less of a fantastical tale and more of a scalding social commentary. The story, despite its briefness, managed to portray the entire world in the space of a few acres of farmland. Its lasting prowess is clearly because of its lasting relevance. And this relevancy is exactly what the book depicts: society’s repetitive and feudalistic nature, dually thriving on and desiring to rid itself of the hierarchical structure it is built upon.
2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Whilst this gorgeous leather-bound Barnes and Noble edition of Carroll’s famed works might look intimidating, the original Alice tales measure in at just over 200 pages of the actual book and can be purchased alone. The whimsical and quirky stories will provide an afternoon of absurd and hilarious fun!
3. Prester John by John Bucan
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Published in 1910, this story about a Zulu uprising in South Africa as experienced by the young Scottish immigrant who travels there. This immersive travel story chronicles the adventures to be had in the furthest outposts of the British Empire. This is also a shocking insight into the casual racism, which was deemed completely acceptable at the time, and provides a startling social commentary on the historical time and setting.
4. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin
“A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.” This wonderfully evocative tale will transport you away to times past, whilst discoursing on topics immortal. A simple and quintessentially lovely tale.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Told through the eyes of a young child, there is a simplicity to this story that makes for easy accessibility. The reader is invited to discover the true hidden meaning of this shockingly insightful tale, by reading through the gaps in the narrative and the protagonist’s perspective. A popular high school story that is worth revisiting at any age.
6. Penguin’s Little Black Classics
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Pages: Generally 100 pages or less
This ever-growing collection of classic poetry, short stories and novellas, produced by Penguin, have a diverse array of titles to suit every and any reader. As well as their minimalist style looking aesthetically pleasing, when their spines are aligned together, these brief reads provide the perfect introduction to a new author or can further your collection of your favourites.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
This might possibly be the most horrifying and heart-wrenching thing I have ever read! The very setting and nature of the story makes this an emotional read, but that is also the cause for the power and longevity of this book. Whilst this is by no means an easy read, it is an important and unforgettable one.
8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plath’s discourse on mental illness is so startling bleak that it is hard not to get dragged down by the negativity this emotes. In that way, this is a mirror of dually the protagonist Esther’s, Plath’s own, and the reader’s emotions. These many layers build upon each other until it becomes hard to tell where each individual’s feelings starts and ends, so completely was I caught up in both Esther and Plath’s inner-turmoil. Their story became, too, my shared one. This established mood permeates the entire story and becomes as much a part of the tale, as the actual plot. The utterly immersive quality of the writing is what drew me in, captivated my attention and spat me back out again, feeling utterly used, at the novel’s close.
9. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
This largely autobiographical short novel is a hilarious insight into 1930’s country living. Matters, both trivial and otherwise, are discoursed and there is an authentic feeling to the diary-style entries this contains. Much of this book still has a lasting relevance today, especially her musings on parenting, social snobbery, and concerns over her appearance. With the variety of topics this covers, it is easy to float along on the book’s quick pace and discover you are turning the final page before you are quite ready to.
10. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
"Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood." . And a legend is born. My first Sherlock and I'm sure to read more. Fun and entertaining, except the casual racism here and there. . For me Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will always be the one, true, dynamic duo. And it was fun seeing them in my head whilst I was reading this. . Have you read this one? Do you have a favourite Sherlock, book, tv, movie, or otherwise? . . #bookstagram #bibliophile #book #bookaholic #bookaddict #booklover #booknerd #bookgeek #bookworm #bookporn #igreads #igbooks #instabook #instaread #classicbooks #classicliterature #arthurconandoyle #sirarthurconandoyle #plato #johnsteinbeck #literature #read #goodreads #lovebooks #lovereading #penguinbooks #booknerdigans #bookish #bookphotography #yalit
The first of the Sherlock Holmes tales is a puzzling and thrilling introduction to the famed literary detective and his lovable sidekick. Conan Doyle proves himself an accomplished writer with concise prose and perplexing crime with enough twists to baffle even today’s contemporary readers.
Know of any other one-sitting reads to add to our list? Let us know in the comment section, down below.